With two upcoming by-elections in Alberta, the Spring Session of the Legislature could play a big role in determining the direction voters in these two ridings end sailing towards. The seats were vacated by former Premier Ralph Klein and former Finance Ministry Shirley McClellan.
In Drumheller-Stettler, consultant and former President of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties Jack Hayden is lining up for the PC nomination. Hayden had previously ran for the PC nomination against former MLA Judy Gordon in the former riding of Lacombe-Stettler in 2000. The Alberta Greens have scheduled a nomination meeting for March 5. Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals have yet to set a nomination date, but word through the grapevine is that a credible local candidate will step up to the plate.
There should be a full slate of candidates in Drumheller-Stettler, but being one of the deepest backwater conservative strongholds, it will take a strong camapaign to move Drumheller-Stettler any closer to the centre than a deep blue conservative. Look for the main opposition parties to be gunning for strong showings rather than victory.
Calgary Elbow presents a different picture. Located in what some political observers have coined the “Latte Belt,” Calgary Elbow showed strong support for the Alberta Liberals in 2004 against-the-odds of an incumbent Premier. There will likely be a full slate of candidates including Social Credit candidate Trevor Grover (I’m sure Social Credit will hit a highwater mark of 200 votes this time around). The Alberta Liberals have scheduled their nomination meeting for March 22. The Tory nominations in both ridings will occur in mid- to late-April.
I’m predicting both by-elections to occur sometime in June.